Competition and survival of the fittest dictate that the Australian online bookmaker environment shifts on a routine basis. Some of the more recent contractions involve the latest bookmaker to join the battle for Australian punters’ attention and money: PlayUp.
PlayUp launched in 2019 as a combination of two bookmakers, ClassicBet and Mad Bookie that owning company PlayUp Interactive Pty Ltd acquired over the past two-plus years. The newest bookie has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong but like most of the others, holds a license issued by Northern Territory. Naturally, there is an office in Darwin.
PlayUp also owns TopBetta and there are plans in the works to merge that operation under the PlayUp umbrella. The bookie is an official partner of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and News Corp. They are approved betting operators for the AFL, NRL, Rugby, FFA, Tennis Australia, Cricket Australia and PGA Australia.
They claim to be Australia’s best-fixed odds provider, but then, we will never live to see the day when a bookie will claim the worst fixed odds.
Here is our review, subject as always, to the frequent change that seems to be increasing, rather than slowing down.
PlayUp Website & Mobile Platforms
We were impressed on our first two visits by the easy on the eyes, no-nonsense dark grey, green, white and black colour scheme. The PlayUp website does not look like something that is being made up as they go along, though they do have some room for growth and improvement.
The website does use the traditional three-column arrangement, with the left column devoted to the significant leagues and codes, the centre column for odds and the right for the betting slip.
PlayUp offers mobile betting apps for Android and iOS, but the mobile version of the site is not mobile optimised and that is our preferred method of access.
If we were to make the decision to join PlayUp strictly on the basis of our view of bookie websites, this bookie would be a strong candidate for us, although the lack of longevity and an established track record incites some wariness. Our conclusion is that the website and mobile apps are adequate, but there is work remaining to be done, as has always been our observation when a new bookie comes along or mergers are involved.
Odds and Markets
This review was prepared after the AFL and NRL had concluded so to get some idea of how PlayUp stacks up against some of the other bookies, we looked at the codes of NFL football and the EPL.
For the next round of the NFL, all we saw were head-to-head and line markets, which frankly, are enough for us, although we can understand some punters wanting more. Neds, by contrast, were offering seven markets per NFL fixture. Ladbrokes offered seven markets as well.
Expecting an Australian bookmaker to provide the number of markets for an American code they supply for Australian sports might be a stretch, so we switched to the EPL.
For the upcoming fixture, along with head-to-head, draw, line and over/under markets, we counted 84 additional markets. We actually had to count them manually. Neds had 151 markets for the same fixture. Same for Ladbrokes.
Edge to the more established bookies, but we can recall when Neds was new and had limited offerings.
A huge number of markets per fixture is viewed as a good thing by most people, but our thinking is that if you could get a bookie to reveal if some of those exotic prop bets received any backing, or if so, how much backing they received, it would turn out to be a case of there being 200 + markets for an AFL fixture, but only a small fraction of those markets having any actual bets placed.
For an odds comparison, we looked at the same NFL and EPL fixtures.
In both instances, we found Neds and Ladbrokes to have slightly better odds, but the differences were minimal and would be an issue only to those placing multiple bets on a regular basis. Still, price is an important consideration, so it would be hoped that PlayUp finds a way to be equally competitive.
Switching to racing in the week leading up to the Cox Plate, ahead of the final acceptances and barrier draw, PlayUp did not seem to have any all-in markets posted. They did have a futures market for the Melbourne Cup, where they had the favourite, Constantinople, quoted at $7. Neds was offering the identical price, as was Ladbrokes.
PlayUp Racing Codes
PlayUp seems to have adequate coverage of the racing codes, but for weekday racing, fixed odds were not provided until the day of the race.
Admittedly, this is an unscientific and limited comparison, but the conclusion might be that PlayUp is equal for racing, but lags a bit for sports.
The primary racing offerings are for New Zealand and Australia, but recently, we have seen racing for Hong Kong, the Philippine Islands, several European countries, England included, as well as Japan and South Africa. Bookies often add racing codes as their growth permits, so this is not surprising.
PlayUp Win, Place, Each Way, Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta and First Four wagering types for racing. There is no race commentary available, but the PlayUp form guide is acceptable.
We found a page on PlayUp’s site that we have not seen with other bookies, although, admittedly, it is nearly impossible to see every page from every bookie and even if it were possible, it would be one of those situations where viewing the last page would make it necessary to begin anew.
The page we encountered showed PlayUp’s schedule of deductions for margin according to the odds on a market. To sum up this page, shorter odds will be subject to a larger deduction than longer odds.
At $1.05 odds, a win bet will suffer a hefty deduction, while odds up in the range where we would never consider making a selection are reduced by a fraction of a percentage point.
It is also early in the going for PlayUp and there are always some initial growing pains to be expected. Even as they have managed to stay relevant and independent for some time now, they still have some minor issues that they will have to address and as they gain clients and receive feedback from those clients, PlayUp can take the appropriate steps.
The PlayUp bet slip was also not as full-featured as others we have seen, yet to declare it inadequate would be unfair.
Deposits and Withdrawals
The minimum deposit is $10. Online bets require at least one dollar. While telephone betting is offered, the minimum bet jumps to $10.
PlayUp accepts deposits via credit card, EFT, BPAY and POLi. That should be adequate for most people and they might add some other methods in the future.
For withdrawals, funds from a credit card must go back to the same card, which is the industry standard. Winnings above the amount deposited by credit card can be made directly to a bank account.
Online chat and email are the other routes for customer service, so PlayUp has those covered. The typical experience is that PlayUp will respond to emails and join chat requests in a timely and effective manner, which is obviously the factor of being an Australian owned, Australia based company
PlayUp does offer in-play wagering all throughout the week. The service is available for 17 hours each day, from 7am until 12 am (midnight). We keep waiting for Australia to move to online in-play wagering. We have been waiting for 12 years so far, with no end in sight.
Like many bookies, PlayUp has some promotions designed to encourage clients to visit the website on a regular basis. More visits equal more bets. Had to fault a business of any sort for doing what is necessary to grow the brand.
Our recent visit to PlayUp showed a good selection of promotions. Racing promotions comprise the bulk of these and most of those built upon things PlayUp does as a matter of course.
One racing promotion, Play of the Day is offered every day. PlayUp will boost the odds of a top runner, one that has an actual chance at doing something.
They also have the 5 Leg Multi Bonus, where one beaten leg will cause the multi stake to be refunded in bonus bets. That is not as good as hitting the multi, but it is better than losing a stake by one leg.
The sports promotion we saw was for basketball, where PlayUp was offering 103 percent NBA head-to-head and line betting. This feature is only available on a few games at a time, with new games coming along after the old markets have been settled.
Unlike when we first reviewed PlayUp, less than a month after the bookie launched, there is now a bit of history on which to form a conclusion.
Many punters will appreciate that PlayUp is 100 percent Australian owned, the website loads quickly and is reasonably intuitive to use, customer service seems to be efficient and punters can set limits for three time frames for deposits, spend and loss.
The wagering interface seems speedy at loading pages. Beginners will feel comfortable navigating and the old-timers will find zero challenge in moving between PlayUp and any other bookie membership.
It should be noted that Punters coming over from Mad Bookie or ClassicBet may need assistance to reset a password.
The biggest negative we found was a dormant account fee of $10 per month after 12 months of no wagering activity. We have discussed that before and can only wonder why someone would fund a wagering account, and then not use it, but the majority of Australian bookmakers have done away with dormant account fees, as they are viewed negatively by most clients.
PlayUp receives some criticism for not posting fixed odds sooner for weekday races, although we have long been advocates of not selecting a runner from any racing code until we are certain that runner will answer the bell.
Other PlayUp critics bash the mobile version of the website and while it is not the best we have seen, it seems adequate to the extent that we would use it for mobile wagering over the Apple and Android apps. We might be more favourably disposed toward the apps if we used an Apple device, but it is not the fault of PlayUp that a certain search giant has some sort of byzantine objection to wagering.
Bottom line, the positive aspects of PlayUp are enough to have us say that we can see no reason to dismiss consideration of this bookie. We will be observing as time goes by - it is obvious that PlayUp will be changing as it evolves - but as of this moment, it would seem that PlayUp is reputable enough and stable enough to earn a recommendation as a stand-alone membership, or as part of a collection of online bookies.